Like a shopworn wedding gown disguised with a new sash, “Made of Honor” feels recycled from top to bottom. That’s because it’s essentially a gender-swapped version of “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” the 1997 Julia Roberts megahit about a woman trying to sabotage her best pal’s nuptials once she realizes she’s in love with him. The undermining duties here fall to “Grey’s Anatomy” star Patrick Dempsey in a predictably familiar role, albeit one that should lure his female-dominated fan base. Theatrical honeymoon could be short, however, as McDreamy-obsessed fans and lonely singletons may prefer this romantic comedy as a chicks-night rental.
It’s the eternally optimistic unwed female population, of course, that explains Hollywood’s seemingly inexhaustible litany of wedding comedies. With a few notable exceptions, the formula is starting to resemble a dog-eared copy of Modern Bride lying around a nail salon: For every legitimately hilarious and male-friendly “Wedding Crashers,” there are a half-dozen anemic items like “The Wedding Date” and “The Wedding Planner.”
“Made of Honor,” alas, falls into that latter category. Scribes Adam Sztykiel, Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont have generated a setup in which Dempsey’s confirmed bachelor, Tom, is at first completely blind to the long-harbored affections of his best friend, Hannah (Michelle Monaghan).
An aggressively cute college-set prologue explains Tom and Hannah’s inauspicious first meeting. Mistaking Hannah for her roommate, a drunken Tom crawls into her bed, only to be doused with a bottle of perfume. She’s so appalled, she insists she wouldn’t sleep with Tom if he were the last man on earth. Flash forward 10 years: By now, they’re good pals.
If the film’s internal logic and implied chronology are to be believed, Tom would be about 31 for the remainder of the story — a stretch, considering Dempsey is in fact a handsome but weathered 42. But plausibility and verisimilitude apparently weren’t high on “Made of Honor’s” guest list.
It’s not so far-fetched that Tom and Hannah should become close friends after that initial encounter, or that she, despite her better judgment, would develop feelings for this narcissistic Casanova. During their weekly lunches and strolls through Manhattan, Hannah chides Tom about his rigid dating code: no consecutive dates with the same girl, no commitments — and certainly no marriage. By now a successful entrepreneur, Tom refuses to turn out like his father (Sydney Pollack), an irredeemable romantic on his sixth marriage.
When an extended work obligation summons Hannah to Scotland, Tom is astonished to discover how much he misses her. In a well-played scene that effectively mixes emotional awkwardness with physical pratfalls, Tom plans to reveal his feelings to Hannah — only to learn she’s fallen hard for wealthy whiskey scion Colin (Kevin McKidd.)
When Hannah asks Tom to be her maid of honor at her Scottish wedding just two weeks away, Tom senses his only chance to intervene. And while planning a massive overseas ceremony in 14 days would be virtually inconceivable even if you have more money than Melania Trump, it’s even harder to believe a manly guy like Tom would willingly brook the emasculating moniker “maid of honor.” (Many real-life brides who involve close male pals in their weddings use “attendant” or the more anatomically correct “best man” — less kitschy than “maid of honor,” but of course, far less useful as a source of double entendre.)
It’s pretty easy to predict the story beats from here: Tom stumbles through his duties, repeatedly offends the other bridesmaids and finds his way to Scotland, where he’ll have to prove himself to Hannah if he has any chance with her. While helmer Paul Weiland maintains a grasp on the proceedings — some of these scenes are fairly funny, and pic skimps on neither acting talent nor production values — it’s hard not to feel that we’ve already been there and done that.
That’s particularly true for an actor of Dempsey’s caliber: At his best when negotiating the fine line between pathos and comedy, he should actively seek roles that demonstrate his range, as he certainly deserves a better starring vehicle than this jalopy.